National MP David MacLeod may face police probe over undeclared donations – law professor

By and is republished with permission

National MP David MacLeod has been stood down from his select committee roles after failing to properly declare nearly $180,000 in donations to his electoral campaign.

National MP David MacLeod. (Source: 1News)

The New Plymouth MP this morning issued an apology — along with a stern statement from the Prime Minister — after the omission was picked up and corrected.

A release from the party today explained that MacLeod “mistakenly failed to declare 19 candidate donations”.

Party leader and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said the party was “taking the matter very seriously”.

“I’ve decided that it is appropriate for David to be stood down immediately from roles on both the Environment and Finance and Expenditure Select Committees.

National MP admits donation declaration errors

New Plymouth MP David MacLeod failed to properly declare nearly $180,000 in donations to his electoral campaign.

New Plymouth MP David MacLeod failed to properly declare nearly $180,000 in donations to his electoral campaign.

He was chairperson of the Environment Committee — according to Parliament’s website — currently hearing submissions on the contentious Fast-track Approvals Bill.

The undeclared donations included 18 candidate donations worth $168,335 received in 2022 – when he first became a National candidate – and one donation of $10,000 in 2023.

“This error was inadvertent. I mistakenly thought the return was for 2023 only, and the 2022 donations had already been filed.

‘Disappointed in myself’ — MacLeod

“Clearly, I was wrong,” the New Plymouth MP said. “I am extremely disappointed in myself for making this error.”

MacLeod has now filed a new Return of Electorate Candidate Donations, Expenses and Loans for the 2023 General Election with the Electoral Commission to rectify the issue.

“Because of a misunderstanding that the return was for 2023 only, both the information supplied to the Party for my return and my completed return to the Electoral Commission did not include the 2022 donations.

“I signed the return believing it was only meant to cover the 2023 year. This was my mistake and I apologise.”

Party picked up the ‘error’

National noticed the “error” last week during the party’s annual consolidation of accounts. MacLeod then conducted a full audit of his own expenses and donations for 2022 and 2023.

“I had always fully intended for these donations to be made public. I wrote to all the donors indicating that any donations over $1500 would be made public,” MacLeod said.

“My electorate team had flagged most of the donations with the National Party and the total amount of them was included in my electorate’s financial accounts.”

The missed 2023 donation was also spotted during the audit. It hadn’t been disclosed to the party and therefore wasn’t on the return.

“I am very disappointed in myself. I apologise to my constituents, the National Party, and the New Zealand public.

“I entered politics to represent my community and make the country a better place and I am still committed to that.”

‘Failed to meet standards we expect’ — Luxon

Party leader Christopher Luxon said “It is imperative that all National Party MPs comply with the law and meet our high expectations”.

“David has failed to meet the high standards we expect of our MPs.”

MacLeod’s new Return filed yesterday declared $207,662 in candidate donations – up from $29,268 on the original return.

Luxon was first informed there “may be an issue” on May 14, the party said.

Who is he?

MacLeod, a first-term MP, won the New Plymouth seat from Labour at last year’s election.

The National Party website said he grew up on a dairy farm in Manaia.

“I’ve been privileged to represent my communities in a range of roles, as a Director of Parininihi ki Waitotara, Fonterra and Port Taranaki, and as Chair of the Taranaki Regional Council,” his party biography read.

The biography also said MacLeod was the owner of a local business operating in the energy sector.

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